Gang Prevention in Schools: Strategies & Services

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  • 0:03 Gang Life
  • 0:37 All About Gangs
  • 4:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

This lesson will review gang prevention strategies and services that can be implemented by school systems to mitigate and discourage gang formation. Statistics and the reasons why people join gangs will also be discussed.

Gang Life

S.E. Hinton wrote a book a long time ago called The Outsiders, which was eventually made into a motion picture. If you have read this book or watched the movie, you know that the book deals with two rival gangs whose members have led troubled lives. Each character in the gang has their own reason for joining, and it is clear that gangs serve a purpose. While in the book and movie, some gang members attempt to reform their lives for the better, others end in tragedy. That is the unpredictable nature of being a gang member.

All About Gangs

Let's take a look at why people tend to join gangs and some statistics about gangs, before detailing gang prevention strategies and services that can be implemented by schools.

Why Join a Gang?

You may ask yourself what the big deal is about joining a gang? What's the purpose? Why bother? Believe it or not, gangs fulfill several needs for vulnerable teenagers, such as:

  1. Offering protection - bullied kids who are intimidated by others often don't know where to turn. By joining a gang, they feel protected and safe.

  2. Offering power - we often hear the saying that there is strength in numbers. Kids who join gangs feel powerful because they're part of a larger whole.

  3. Offering a sense of belonging - kids who join gangs often don't have strong family or friendship connections, and being part of a gang satisfies this emotional need.

Why Schools Need to Pay Attention - Statistics

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention conducted a survey that found:

  • Gang violence occurs much more frequently in heavily populated urban areas
  • There are more than 24,500 active gangs in the United States
  • Males make up 94% of all gang members
  • The cost of gang violence exceeds $100 billion on an annual basis
  • Males under the age of 18 make up about 37% of gang members
  • Hispanics and African Americans are at greatest risk of becoming vulnerable to gang membership

Gang Prevention Strategies and Services in Schools

Considering the amount of violent behavior that accompanies gang membership, it's important for schools to implement effective gang prevention strategies and services. The following strategies and services have proven effective in deterring gang development and activity in schools:

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